Sunday, June 13, 2010
Interview: Bizarro Author Jeremy C. Shipp
Sorry I have not put an interview up in awhile. I have been trying to do interviews with my non-author friends, some of the other interesting people I know. Should I be surprised that the authors are the ones that are good at sending me these interviews back? Anyhoo, I only know Jeremy from his books and the internet. I am hoping he'll join us for bizarro con this year. Creme filled Vegan donuts are on me Jeremy! I reviewed all three of his books here on this blog. Look them up, read them you'll be glad you did.
Most authors have one book or books that first inspired the love or narrative story telling. What did it for you?
When I was a kid, my muse burst from her cocoon after I read The Time Machine. Then, she danced a jig of joy after I experienced The Count of Monte Cristo.
Your prose and narrative structure is what most would consider experimental. Can you give us an idea how you developed your style?
I started writing novels when I was 13, and I’ve been writing at least one a year ever since. And so, my style has evolved ever so slowly. I’ve grown more and more minimalistic over the years. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I’ve learned that a meaningful sentence can be worth a thousand words as well.
How different is the writing style between your short stories and novels? Or one novel to another?
I want each of my tales to be a unique experience for my readers, and so I mold the narrative style of each story to reflect the psyche of the point of view character. For instance, Nicholas from Cursed is quite obsessive and neurotic, and so he thinks in lists. And Bernard from Vacation often thinks in literary terms.
Vacation your first novel is in part about a corporate retreat. Is this inspired by a job in your past?
Vacation isn’t inspired by a job, but it is, in part, inspired by real life travel experiences. For instance, I’ve volunteered at an orphanage in a poor part of Mexico, and I’ve also visited some rich port cities. The differences between these two areas are staggering. My novel, Vacation, is in some ways about this dichotomy. I know people who have traveled the world, but have never seen the world at all, because they have merely hopped from resource bubble to resource bubble.
Vacation got some rave reviews from authors like Gary Braunbeck and Piers Anthony. Between all three of your books the blurbs have come from a range of authors. How has that been for you?
The praise has indeed come from a diversity of authors, from Piers Anthony to Gary Braunbeck to Carlton Mellick III to Jack Ketchum to Susan Straight. I’m monumentally honored by the praise my work has received over the years. And these reviews have helped me to connect with a wide range of readers. My fans tend to be readers of Bizarro, horror, science fiction, dark fantasy, and literary novels.
You have a fantastic collection of short stories called Sheep and Wolves. Can you tell me about the selection process?
Thank you for the kind words. I’ve written over two hundred short stories over the years, and so I had a lot to choose from when building Sheep and Wolves. Basically, I wanted to include what I viewed as my best work. I also wanted the stories to fit the theme of social and personal abuse. Most of the tales I ended up using were newer stories, although I did include one older novella: Flapjack. Flapjack is very different from the other stories, in terms of narrative style. Still, the tale fit with the theme. This is one of those stories that people seem to either love or hate, but I decided to include it anyway, because it holds a special place in my spleen.
Cursed is a fast paced novel. The prose style is tight through out. Was there a longer version that was stripped down?
Nope. Cursed was always minimalistic and boney. And this means that writing Cursed was an exercise in obsession. For me, the tighter my prose style, the longer it takes me to write each sentence. Each word.
What does the Bram Stoker award nomination mean for you as a Bizarro author?
The nomination is a blessing. My readership has grown since the announcement, and I’ve received several offers for interviews and other projects. And, of course, my hope is that Bizarro as a whole will benefit from the nomination. Bizarro is a community and a literary movement, and so no Bizarro author is an island.
How does living in a haunted house affect your life, writing?
For the most part, my ghosts are rather lazy. However, they do manage to freak me out from time to time. One example: my father and I were working in the attic (this is before the clowns moved in up there, mind you), taking apart the old chimney, and we came across a mound of ash. After a while, something started rising out of the ash. At first, we thought it was an animal, but it turned out to be an old doll. It’s during those times that part of me wishes my house were haunted by Casper or Boo Berry. The other part of me appreciates those horrifying moments, because they inspire me creatively. For instance, the incident with the doll inspired my story “Watching.”
You are a vegan. How did you get interested in that lifestyle?
I ate meat for most of my life, and for most of my life, I worked hard not to think about where my food was coming from. Then, a few years ago, my wife became vegan, and her compassion inspired me. And so, finally, I opened my eyes to the true horrors of factory farming. I read, I watched, I cried. For me, becoming vegan was an act of love and respect; a natural reaction to reality. Of course, I don’t expect everyone else in the world to make the same choices that I do. Everyone chooses their own acts of love, and they’re all important.
1. I like lists.
2. You know you’re eating peanut butter too ferociously when you find some inside of your hat (at least I hope that’s peanut butter).
3. A barrel of monkeys is actually quite heartbreaking.
4. The Chupacabra really gets my goat.
5. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, if you throw it hard enough.